Let’s get on with opening our schools following Motshekga’s indecisiveness

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is dismayed by the confusion sown by the Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga’s last-minute U-turn on the reopening of schools. Her poor communication and utter failure to address the nation on Sunday, as rumors were swirling on whether learners would be able to return, was a slap in the face of parents across the country.

Minister Motshekga has today come out to say that schools will not be fully reopening this week and that Grade 7s and Grade 12s will now only fully return on 8 June 2020. She also said that schools may use this week to receive and orientate learners if ready and able to do so. We welcome this clarification.

But we must point out that the overall message is in stark contrast to what she said as recently as last week Thursday when, during her assessment on the readiness of Gauteng schools, the Minister confidently told South Africans most schools have received sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) and were all set to reopen today.

She confirmed today that 80% of schools were in fact ready. It is a pity that those which are fully prepared need to wait while the remaining 20% catch up before they are allowed to open fully.

The last-minute reversal has been a source of confusion and uncertainty among parents, who have had to make the difficult decision of whether or not they were going to send their children to school.

The DA has noted that Minister Motshekga has subsequently apologised and we trust that she will now take control of this situation, and not be dictated to by the unions. Her communication vacuum has not only fueled uncertainty, but has given unions like SADTU the motivation to make rash announcements on the reopening of schools, despite it not being their mandate to do so. This was completely unacceptable.

Now more than ever we need strong decisive leadership and stability so that parents and teachers are comfortable and are assured as to when schools will open so that proper measures are in place. Having lost a full term of studies, the whole country is looking at the Minister to provide the necessary leadership.

The DA takes pride in the fact that the Western Cape was at almost complete readiness by yesterday. We welcome the fact that the Western Cape Education Department has stuck to its guns and reopened schools in the province and has been orientating learners from today. We have also noted that individual schools across the country have opened their doors.

We are confident that the WCED and those individual schools across the country are prepared and ready to welcome the returning learners. The reopening of schools this week, was done in accordance with the regulations which were Gazetted by the Minister, stating that Grade 7 and 12 learners can go back on the 1st of June.

The DA has today conducted oversight inspections across the country to assess the true state of readiness. We trust that schools across South Africa will be ready to open next week, and we urge the Minister to ensure clear communication and decisiveness are employed at all times so that we can avoid confusion and the feuling of certainty.

The DA will be closely monitoring developments in the DBE.

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